9th February, 2016

New York Children’s Medical Research Foundation Dinner 2016

On February 9th, 2016, The Children’s Medical Research Foundation (CMRF) held their Best of Ireland Gala Dinner at the New York Athletic Club in partnership with the evening’s title sponsor, The American Ireland Fund, which has been a longtime supporter of the hospital’s work.
Now in its fifth year, the Best of Ireland Gala Dinner has raised over $2 million to help some of Ireland’s sickest children at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, Ireland.
Funds raised at the Gala Dinner have allowed for four new rooms to be established at the hospital’s Children’s Heart Centre, a brand new state-of-the-art space which admits almost 600 children who need critical and often life-saving cardiac care each year. In addition, funds raised from the Dinner Gala have assisted vital pediatric research at the National Research Centre located on the hospital campus.
The event was attended by members of the foundation’s US and Irish board, the Dinner Gala Committee, friends of CMRF, Honorary Patron and professional golfer Graeme McDowell and the evening’s honorees; President and CEO of Moët Hennessy USA Jim Clerkin and National Hockey League star Brian Leetch who played for 18 seasons with the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Boston Bruins.
Guests were welcomed to the New York Athletic Club with a cocktail reception where they were given the opportunity to participate in the Graeme McDowell Challenge on a golf simulator.
Donard Gaynor, Dinner Chairman, opened the evening by thanking everyone for their support and commitment to the hospital over the last five years. He paid tribute to The American Ireland Fund as the title sponsor of the evening and also to Graeme McDowell and his GMac Foundation for being ‘an incredible ambassador for this cause.’
Kieran McLoughlin, President and CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds said that it was a privilege to support one of Ireland’s “most treasured and loved institutions.”
Both honorees, Jim Clerkin and Brian Leetch , took to the stage and thanked all attendees for their support which would go a long way in transforming the lives of Ireland’s sickest children.
Dr. Orla Franklin, a pediatric cardiologist at the hospital, spoke of the life changing work carried out by the hospital and how vital the work of CMRF is helping sick children in Ireland.
Noel O’Connell, a father whose child Ollie underwent open heart surgery at the hospital when he was just was a day old, thanked all those attending for their support and generosity in ‘helping to mend little hearts.’ He credited the outstanding staff at the hospital for saving his son’s life and for providing thousands of other children with “world class treatment in world-class facilities.”
Pat Tully, National Director of the American Ireland Fund Young Leaders, conducted a successful and enjoyable live auction and paddle raise supported by Graeme McDowell which brought the total raised on the evening to just over $625,000 making the night the most successful Best of Ireland Gala Dinner to date.
Honorary Patron Graeme McDowell and Honoree Brian Leetch closed the evening by participating in a Q&A conversation on stage about their experience as sporting legends and philanthropists.
Previous honorees of the Best of Ireland Gala Dinner include The American Ireland Fund Board Member and Bank of America Vice Chairman Anne Finucane, Senator George J. Mitchell and the co-founders of Riverdance: Moya Doherty and John McColgan.
Attendees included: President and CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds Kieran McLoughlin, professional golfer and U.S Open Winner Graeme McDowell, Consul General of Ireland in New York Barbara Jones, Deputy Consul General of Ireland in New York Anna McGillicuddy, Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau Norman Houston and Irish Senator Eamonn Coughlan.